Summary: If you go to God and say, “I deserve acceptance,” you will be rejected, because that shows you do not know what’s in your own heart. But if you go to God and say, “I deserve rejection; please forgive me,” you will get acceptance. That’s the gospel.
Just in time for Thanksgiving meal, Jesus tells us who to invite. Today, we encounter a dramatic story where Jesus has been invited into the home of a very prominent man. We discover at the very beginning of this chapter that Jesus was invited to a big supper with lots of guests at a prominent home. And it quickly becomes awkward and a most uncomfortable dinner.
Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” (Luke 14:7-24)
It’s a long passage, and I’d just like to show you Jesus gives three speeches. In the very beginning he speaks to all of the guests from verses 8–11… …and then in the middle he speaks to the host from verses 12–14… … and then at the end he actually speaks to one smug guest and tells the parable of the great banquet. At the end of every one of these speeches, he shows us some way in which the gospel helps us understand why it’s very reasonable to give sacrificially.
1. Jesus Honors Humility
Most of eat with paper plates and solo cups ?. Have you ever been to a dinner where there’s a seating chart? Social status was determined by the seating arrangements at a feast as described here:
? First, were you invited?
? Second, where did you sit?
? Third, did you remember to invite the host back to your house? (to forget was embarrassing)
The Patronage System
The Greco-Roman world operated on the patronage system. The patronage system went like this. In every community there were certain prominent wealthy individuals. If you wanted to improve your station in life, to move up at all, you had to make one of those people your patron. If that person was your patron, that person gave you loans, gave you gifts, opened doors for you. Then you were part of their network. Patrons had networks of favorites, and a favorite was somebody who got favors from the patron. The patron’s network of favorites meant that patron could get a lot of things done in a community, because you had all of these people who owed you. You always got breaks on things. Patrons could get a lot of things done in a community, because your favorites would grease the slides. Political favors and that kind of thing.